Location 15: Somiedo (Spain)
"Mountain wildlife including Brown Bears."
I recommend the Bear Tracking (premium link) activity.
My favourite sites were Valle del Lago (premium link) which has a walk high into the mountains and La Parel (premium link) which is a bear-watching viewpoint.
Somiedo National Park is part of the Cantabrian mountain range. June/July sees large numbers of wildflowers, butterflies and other wildlife. If it is wet you might see Fire Salamander.
Brown Bear live here and, based on the reports from many years of people visiting, you have a good chance of distant views if you stay for a few days. Scratch marks in the trees might be territorial markings or simply where a bear slipped while it was climbing. Bear poo is very large and often the colour of the berries it is eating. You might also look out for berry bushes with the berry-laden twigs bitten off by the bears. Brown Bear famously eat Alpine Buckthorn in the autumn. On my visit in autumn 2016 I saw lots of bear field signs and also 3 bears!
Wolf also live at Somiedo. I think the lack of viewpoints with wide views of suitable habitat helps to make them difficult to see. I have not seen any wolf field signs here. You might see large (and usually human-friendly) guard dogs, with spiked collars to defend against neck attacks, protecting cattle from predators including the wolves.
Camping Lagos de Somiedo http://www.campinglagosdesomiedo.com is a scenic campsite high in the mountains.
- La Parel (site 1) (premium link) is a bear-watching viewpoint that is particularly popular in August/September. In early summer there is a walk down the valley with flowers and butterflies. (GPS coords 42.0419N 06.2490W)
- The bear conservation charity Fundacion Oso Pardo (site 2) has an information centre with a short film to watch. There is also a national park information centre in the centre of town. (GPS coords 43.0932N 06.2543W)
- There is a road through the scenic Saliencia Valley (site 3) where you can make stops as you drive along. You could look through binoculars or a telescope for wildlife including Wallcreeper and izard. (The GPS coords for a car park with a footpath south through the mountains are 43.0570N 06.0910W.)
- Valle del Lago (site 4) (premium link) is a high valley in the mountains with wildlife including izard, birds and butterflies. Short and long walks are possible. (GPS coords 43.0703N 06.1941W)
On a 2 day visit in autumn 2016 I saw the following mammals:
- Pyrenean Izard 10x4 (m10)
- Brown Bear 3x1 (m1)
- Stoat 1x1 (m1)
On the same 2 day visit I saw 32 species of bird:
- Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) 6x3 (m5)
- Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) 1x1 (m1)
- Common Buzzard/Steppe Buzzard (Buteo buteo) 6x2 (m2)
- Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) 3x1 (m1)
- Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) 3x2 (m3)
- Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) 2x4 (m5)
- House Martin (Delichon urbicum) 2x2 (m3)
- White Wagtail/Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) 4x2 (m2)
- Dunnock/Hedge Accentor (Prunella modularis) 4x2 (m2)
- Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 6x2 (m2)
- Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) 4x3 (m3)
- Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) 1x1 (m1)
- Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus) 1x5 (m5)
- Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) 2x9 (m15)
- Blackbird (Turdus merula) 4x1 (m1)
- Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) 1x2 (m2)
- Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) 1x1 (m1)
- Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) 2x1 (m1)
- Chiffchaff/Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) 1x2 (m2)
- Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) 1x1 (m1)
- Coal Tit (Parus ater) 2x2 (m2)
- Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) 1x1 (m1)
- Magpie (Pica pica) 2x4 (m6)
- Jay (Garrulus glandarius) 2x3 (m5)
- Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) 3x8 (m12)
- Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) 1x3 (m3)
- Raven (Corvus corax) 3x3 (m3)
- House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 2x2 (m2)
- Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) 6x3 (m5)
- Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) 3x3 (m4)
- Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) 1x2 (m2)
- Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) 1x1 (m1)
If you are lucky you might see rectangular-shaped bear poo like this. They are often a bright colour from eating berries.
This scratch in the tree might be a territorial marking or from where a bear was climbing and slipped.
This article is part of the Nature Travel Guide and was published on October 19th 2018.
Larger-scale information relating to this page include the Planet Earth, Europe and Spain articles.
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